China needs to realize that Western countries do not view Taiwan in a similar way to the semi-autonomous territory of Hong Kong, former British prime minister Tony Blair said.
“It’s important that we understand what China’s position is in relation to Taiwan, how deep this ‘one China’ policy is,” Blair said on Thursday in Singapore. “They have to understand that Taiwan is not the same as Hong Kong, and there are very strong views on this in the West.”
Blair added that the potential for conflict between the US and China over Taiwan is a “big anxiety,” and that the West needs to strengthen its own ability to deal with Beijing, while also being willing to cooperate when possible.
His comments at the Bloomberg New Economy Forum came the same week that Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平) reasserted Beijing’s “red line” with regard to “separatist forces” in Taiwan in a virtual meeting with US President Joe Biden.
Biden subsequently, although briefly, caused some confusion by describing Taiwan as “independent” to reporters, before walking back his comment.
Blair praised the meeting between Xi and Biden, and said the US position on China was clearly changing.
“The Americans are actually coming to the right type of policy posture towards China,” he said. “None of that means that there is not going to still be some pretty fierce action on both sides, and there are all sorts of risks and dangers with this relationship, but it remains the key to 21st-century stability.”
Part of the problem in dealing with Beijing is that “no one quite knows what China really wants to achieve,” and whether it is only seeking to develop its own nation or to achieve “supremacy” over the West, he said.
It is clear that in the past few years, China has adopted a newly assertive posture, domestically and on the world stage, and this means the West needs to become stronger in relation to Beijing, while also being willing to work with China when possible, he said.
“We have to be strong enough to do whatever is necessary,” Blair said.
“We need to engage, to understand, to be able to work with China and to ensure that the relationship isn’t subject to mistakes” that could prompt confrontation, he added.
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